Lost at sea memorial unveiled at Port Fourchon
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — On April 21, 2010, Chris Jones raced down La. 1 to Port Fourchon, where the survivors of the previous day’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion were being taken.
He didn’t know what had happened to his brother, but hoped he was safe and could go home.
Tragically, 28-year-old Gordon Jones, of Baton Rouge, was one of the 11 men who died in the explosion.
Chris Jones said he and his family have found ways to remember his brother. The most recent is through the Lady of the Gulf Seaman’s Memorial, which was unveiled on Oct. 21 next to Port Fourchon’s Emergency Command Center.
“I have traveled down La. 1 to both Fourchon and Grand Isle numerous times,” Chris Jones said. “Every time, I vividly recall that drive seven years ago; it’s impossible to forget. But what I’m grateful for is that this memorial will be here at the end of this road forever to remind our family and everyone else about Gordon and all the others that have lost their lives in this Gulf.”
The monument is a mermaid ascending from the water, with a cloak that includes diving fins and an oil rig. It stands about 16 feet tall from its platform.
Cindie Roussel connected with families of some lost in the oil rig explosion to create the monument.
She lost her 27-year-old son, Blake Terry, to the Gulf of Mexico in a diving incident. The Lockport resident went missing Aug. 13, 2011, and his body was never recovered.
“I know it’s been six and a half years, but it feels like Blake just died,” Roussel said. “He’s continuing his love and dedication to the community through her and through us.”
Robert Epstein, who owns the Colorado-based Highstone Studio, designed the monument. Picciola and Associates in Cut Off and Ray Baudoin Builders in Raceland were also involved with the project.
Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, said it was emotional to finally see the memorial unveiled.
“When we were asked if it was a possibility to donate the property to have this statue, it was a no-brainer,” he said. “There’s no other place that it should be than right here on public land where people can come and see it anytime they want. We’re very happy to have been a part of it. I hope the families can be happy to know that their loved ones’ names are up here and that their memory will live forever.”
Bricks are being sold at ourladyofthegulf.org for the base of the monument. People can donate bricks in support of the Our Lady of the Gulf Foundation or in memory of someone who worked on or simply enjoyed the water.
The bricks are $150 for one that’s 4-by-8 inches and $300 for one that’s 8-by-8 inches.
People can also request memorial plates for loved ones lost at sea by filling out a form on the website.
Roussel said the monument includes 23 plaques and 53 bricks so far.
Blake Terry’s younger brother, Dustin, said whenever he drives down to Port Fourchon, he’s excited to go fishing and have fun with his family and friends. Then, as he gets past the toll on the bridge, he remembers the first night of searching for Blake.
“It always hits me at that same place, and it brings my spirits down,” he said. “Now I know that this memorial waits for me, looking after me the same way that my brother did. Today, for the first time, I feel that I can say goodbye to my brother. ”